Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Review: A Stirring Tribute to the Late Chadwick Boseman

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever respectfully pays tribute to Chadwick Boseman’s legacy and blurs the line between reality and fantasy by exploring the impact of grief on its characters.

wakanda forever

The passing of Chadwick Boseman in 2020, left a giant hole in the lives of many, including the cast and crew of the Black Panther film; a landmark moment in cinema, where a black superhero finally got his own film in the MCU. The sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, also directed by Ryan Coogler who co-wrote the screenplay with Joe Robert Cole, pays tribute to Boseman’s legacy in a respectful way, with the film blurring the line between reality and fantasy, by exploring the impact of grief and loss on its characters in multiple ways.

The film begins with a funeral and a rousing celebration of King T’Challa’s life, before moving on to one year later at a United Nations conference where Queen Ramonda (an incredible Angela Bassett) is addressing Wakanda’s failure to keep up their promises regarding the distribution of Vibranium. The talks are cross cut with fierce action showing the Dora Milaje taking out some troops. Michaela Cole makes her first appearance here as new character, Aneka, and her witty combat chat with Okoye (Danai Gurira turning in another stand-out performance) is a highlight throughout.

Once the story kicks in, the film shifts across many locations, including an underwater city where an ancient civilization directly linked to the Mayans led by King Namor (Tenoch Huerta) resides. Namor appears to Romonda and Shuri (Letitia Wright) to ask for help in the protection of precious resources from an invasion by the USA.

There are so many characters, locations and separate narratives playing out that the film doesn’t always successfully build momentum. However, it’s in the quieter moments that powerful images, rendered with beautiful clarity by cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw, speak to the fragility of human life on both a personal and wider scale. The women characters take centre stage, with Shuri, Ramonda, Okoye and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) each battling demons when it comes to questions of protection, responsibility and vengeance.

Winston Duke as M’Baku delivers scene stealing levity but leaves you wanting more, and as is usually the way in the Marvel Universe, some of the great cast are sorely underused, perhaps being introduced too briefly for future spin-off potential.

Ludwig Göransson’s stirring score in the final action set-piece really sings alongside the dazzling spectacle, that uses its watery setting in imaginative ways. In fact, water is used in thrilling, tranquil and poignant ways throughout, tying together the film’s themes when it comes to climate change, pillaging of resources and drowning under the emotional strain of grief. Single tears or floods of sobs performed by a clearly deeply affected cast are shown in close-up to convey pain and sorrow in such a raw manner that it’s difficult not to get invested in this epic and often breathtakingly arresting adventure.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is out in cinemas on 11 November.